Fireworks laws differ in Georgia, South Carolina

If you plan to shoot off some fireworks to celebrate the Fourth, you should follow the laws in your state. Otherwise, your celebration could come to an abrupt halt.

"Warnings will most likely be issued for the first offense, depending on the severity of the complaint, and the fireworks are seized," said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

Richmond County police respond in a similar way.

On a second violation, citations carry a maximum $1,000 fine and year in jail, depending on a magistrate judge's order.

Police, however, say a first warning is usually all that's needed.

Georgia law allows sparklers, snappers, party poppers, glow worms and snakes. But firecrackers, torpedoes, Roman candles and any fireworks that shoot into the air before exploding are prohibited.

In the unincorporated areas of Aiken County, it's legal to shoot Class C fireworks, which include most items sold to consumers.

Aiken County sheriff's Lt. Becky Edmonds said that police would respond only if there is a report of someone using fireworks in a dangerous way.

In the city of Aiken, however, an ordinance allows only sparklers and small devices such as Lady Fingers, said Sgt. Aaron Dowdy of Aiken Public Safety.

He said anyone caught using larger fireworks would first receive a warning but could be cited on a second offense and later face a magistrate judge to determine a fine, which could cost as much as $465.

Authorities also say you should consider safety when having a fireworks display.

The Joseph M. Still Burn Center and Advance Wound Management Center at Doctors Hospital reported it treated 15 patients for fireworks-related injuries last July Fourth.

"We have seen an increase in fireworks-related injuries since Georgia legalized fireworks," Dr. Fred Mullins, the medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center, said in a statement. "Those handling fireworks need to be extremely cautious, and do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances."

Pets probably shouldn't be taken where fireworks will be going off because they can be frightened by them.

Local animal control officials have said they often get reports of animals running away and getting lost at firework shows.

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE

- Don't light fireworks indoors or near dry grass, and always have a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby.

- Don't wear loose clothing when using fireworks.

- Stand several feet away.

- Should a firework not go off, don't stand over it to investigate. Instead, pour water over it and dispose of it.

- Make sure to read any directions or warning labels. If fireworks don't display contents, directions and a warning label, don't use them.

Source: Beth Frits, Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital